Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Jack Stinson's "High Street" - an interview with the author

This week the CFRB is hosting a tour for the book "High Street" by Jack Stinson. I read it some weeks ago and then sent some questions to Jack - here are his answers:

What was your motivation for writing High Street? What got you started?
The story came to me as I was working with the homeless in an inner-city church ministry here in Columbus. I saw several young men and women (really boys and girls) that were only 18 or 19 and already so very messed up because of very poor decisions and the traps of the enemy. I wanted to tell that story.

Which target audience did you have in mind as you wrote? Has this changed since then?
The target was Christians and non-Christians. Everyone. No, that hasn't changed. I'll explain more in the next answer.

What do you want to accomplish with this book? How do you hope it will affect your readers?
I want to write fiction that causes the non-Christian think about the more important things in life: God, death, and the truth of life. In this particular story, I also wanted to make Christians understand how easy it can be to get hurt in this world. Sometimes we get very judgemental about people 'deserving' their situations. I wanted a main character that Christians would 'root for'. Also, I hope that it will make Christians more aware of how they can help others. (Also, if you're a teenage Christian or the parent of one, I hope it scares you a little...I hope that's OK!)

Your book is completely without spelling mistakes. Even bestsellers usually have a few! How did you do it?
A Christian editor in my church did a good edit on the final manuscript for me, and then my wife and daughter proofread it a couple of times each. It was a lot of hard work.

Tell me about your publisher, Infinity. I haven't heard of them before. How did you find them, or did they find you?
Infinity is a wonderful publisher for those going the self-published route -- I found them searching on the Web. I was given proof copies of the draft book to check...I was able to say what I wanted on the cover and then have changes made after I got the proof book. They charge a reasonable price both for their service and for the books later. I'm quite happy. I just had a book of short fiction, Hard Pursuit, published with them this summer and everything went great.

I see you live in Columbus yourself, where the book is also set. Does this mean that the places described are in fact real locations - the homeless shelters, the churches, the colleges, the woods, the motels, and of course High Street?
Yes. High Street is a very well known street here in Columbus. When I first went to college here years ago (at Devry Institute of Technology) I was not a Christian at the time. I went to those college bars... Later, during my last year of college, I was back around those college bars on High Street passing out Christian tracts with other Christians. Then much later (several states, two children, and two decades) I was helping in a church ministry going to the Open Shelter, Faith Mission, and so on. The church and the college were not real, but everything else was. The bridge on the cover is the bridge that Jamie walked many times in the story.

Your book has been described as a modern-day Prodigal Son story. But yours has a different ending. How come?
I've been asked that many times...some folks were shocked by the ending and it took them a while to decide that they really liked it... All I can say is that this is the story that came to me. It was the story that I wanted to write. I actually wrote the last page first, then went back and wrote the other 85,000 words...

Jamie's absence seems to cause a change to his family's spiritual life. How do you intend this apparent cause-and-effect to come across to your readers?
So many times it takes something bad or traumatic to make people think of God. I don't like the bad or traumatic things...but that's how it is so often.

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